Known for its endless sunshine (a very impressive 35o days a year), its UNESCO City of Gastronomy status, for having some of the cleanest air of any major city worldwide and the breathtaking Sonoran Desert, Arizona’s second-largest city has well earned its year-round outdoor playground reputation. It’s also a very hip city with a great collection of microbreweries, vegan stores, tattoo parlors, thrift stores and a great vibe. It also offers some awesome places to stay, from intimate boutiques to sleek and modern high rises, here are the Cool and Unusual Hotels in Tucson, Arizona (in no particular order, they’re all awesome)…
1. Graduate Tucson – a funky and Instagrammble hotel perfect for Gen Zs and Millenials
In the lively West University neighbourhood of Tucson, with its craft coffee shops, taco joints, late-night bars and independent shops is Graduate Tucson; a colourfully designed, well-presented, relaxing hotel with a small rooftop pool with views of the city and mountains. The hotel has a fresh and homely feel with playful décor in the public areas, guest rooms and suites, inspired by the Sonoran Desert landscape.
There’s a good coffee shop on the ground floor and an excellent casual restaurant on the 14th floor with fire pits and a deck bar to make the most of the distant scenic views. A well-stocked fitness centre helps to burn a few calories, or Graduate Tucson offers cycle hire, which is a great way to get around the adjoining university campus.
- To book, check prices or availability for Graduate Tucson
2. The Tuxon Hotel, Tucson, a Member of Design Hotels – a hip and fashionable boutique hotel that welcomes pets
About a mile from Downtown Tucson, just across the Interstate 10 freeway in the historic district of Menlo Park, home to cactus-dotted Sentinel Peak, is The Tuxon Hotel. A modern low-level, courtyard style building surrounding a central pool with rooms opening directly to the outside, motel-style. Spaces are wonderfully furnished with colour palettes, materials, textures, and finishes inspired by a conflux of the region’s American, Mexican, and Native American roots.
The attractive rooms and suites feature rustic grey wood fixtures, saddled leather, potted local succulents, and artwork that celebrates the hotel’s unique connection to the desert which is just a few hundred yards behind the hotel if you want to explore. The focus here is the lovely central pool with a few cabanas and a good bar serving quality drinks and a tasty range of casual food.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Tuxon Hotel, Tucson, a Member of Design Hotels
3. Hotel McCoy – Art, Coffee, Beer, Wine – a trendy and vibrant remodelled retro motel that features free bikes
At the intersection of Interstates 10 and 19, this trendy, retro 1960s motel with a mural-clad exterior is 3 miles from the Tucson Museum of Art and 5 miles from Sentinel Peak Park, on the edge of an industrial zone but handily on the doorstep of Santa Cruz River Park.
With a cheerful, hostel-like, arty ambience the Hotel McCoy is a traditional motel with plenty of added extras; such as a lovely small pool, onsite art gallery, occasional music or theatre, coffee shop, local bar, fitness centre and even a games room. They have gone to a lot of trouble to make it more than just a stop-over place to sleep with great effect. The perfect location for exploring the parks and deserts of Western Tucson then returning to chill.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hotel McCoy – Art, Coffee, Beer, Wine
4. Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa – a historic results converted from a 1912 hacienda surrounded by breathtaking views
To the north of Tucson in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains is Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa, a pleasantly built yellow-ochre collection of adjoining casitas, some of which date back to 1912, with good views of the mountains and the city. Simple hacienda styling mixed with the occasional daub of Native American design and plenty of warm yellows creates a relaxing ambience.
There are over 240 rooms and suites here, but clever architecture and layout means it feels much smaller. In the landscaped desert gardens, you’ll find three good pools, tennis courts and a fitness centre. There are a few good restaurants on site and a coffee shop but, before settling down to dine, take a unique horseback ride through the desert foothills in Westward Look’s own 80 acres.
- To book, check prices or availability for Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort & Spa
5. The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa – a unique modern hotel that is perfect for a romantic getaway
La Paloma, to the northeast of Tucson, is an upmarket neighbourhood of country clubs, resorts and gated communities in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Park. The streets around are tree-lined and the vista of mountains looks beautiful in the changing light. The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa is a vast older hotel in a pseudo-hacienda style with plenty of corporate mahogany and beige throughout.
It is in a prime location atop a mound giving the most spectacular views towards the city to the west and mountains to the east. It’s an enormous hotel with the usual selection of rooms and suites, some with balconies to enjoy the views, all in need of a little update for the 21st century but forgivable with the lovely gardens, three good pools, fitness centre, spa, jacuzzi and golf courses.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa
6. Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort – a unique luxury resort perfect for a relaxing vacation
There are many resorts nestled in the popular foothills of Santa Catalina Park, but Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort manages to stand out as a slightly quirky, more intimate place to stay, with its jumble of hacienda-style architecture linking courtyards to magnificent grounds. Originally built in the 1930s as a remote desert retreat for the rich and famous, Tucson has since slowly expanded around it, but Hacienda del Sol has somehow retained its calm ambience and superb views with lovely gardens of Sonoran Desert landscaping.
Rooms, suites and casitas are furnished in an interesting Mexican ranch style to complement the buildings, and there are a couple of excellent restaurants and an outdoor heated pool, hot tubs and a small spa. Occasionally there’s live music and always some kind of art or sculpture installation in the grounds. Not the biggest of Tucson’s resorts, but by far the most charming.
- To book, check prices or availability for Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort
7. Omni Tucson National Resort – a modern luxury hotel where guests can enjoy golf courses to outdoor terraces
Tucson National is a large golfing complex on the northern edge of Tucson city, boasting two distinctly different 18-hole championship courses across more than 260 acres, frequently hosting international championships. Omni Tucson National Resort is the main hotel serving the golf courses with its own pool, steakhouse and spa – although, this really is a place you stay to play golf.
The rooms are a little dated, dressed in a sort of Benidorm meets not-sure style. Many have an outside patio or balcony which, although nice, continues the Costa Blanca ambience which pervades into the public spaces. You almost want to get to the pool early and chuck a towel on a lounger; but you’re here to play golf and the courses are simply outstanding.
- To book, check prices or availability for Omni Tucson National Resort
8. The Blenman Inn, Downtown – a quirky chic boutique inn located close to great attractions
The Blenman Inn is a fabulous bed and breakfast in Downtown Tucson, a short walk from theatres, galleries and restaurants. From the outside it’s an old, quaint whitewashed building with a pretty garden. On the inside it’s a delightfully styled mix of Victorian furnishings and décor which deposit oodles of charm and comfort, without feeling like a museum.
There are just 5 suites and two rooms of accommodation, all individually designed to reflect the building’s original construction as a private home in 1878. Some of the rooms have small patios looking out across the lush gardens where there’s a nice, shaded area with a swimming pool and hot-tub. Despite feeling like a peaceful suburban retreat, it is only two blocks from the heart of Downtown Tucson with world-beating restaurants and entertainment.
- To book, check prices or availability for The Blenman Inn, Downtown
9. JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort – an awesome upscale downtown resort that blends style and comfort
On the extreme western edge of the city, nestled against the Tucson Mountain Park, is the sprawling JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort. Perched like an enormous pueblo on the edge of the desert with panoramic views of lush green golf courses, blue swimming pools and earthen desert terrain in all directions.
The rooms and suites are simply bedecked in pale desert tones, many have balconies to enjoy the fabulous views; the calm styling continues through the shared spaces allowing the building to absorb its surroundings, rather than dominate. For the more adventurous there are hiking trails into the park, three good-sized swimming pools plus a fitness centre or a spa for relaxing. Kids will enjoy the lazy river and waterslide, but this is really a resort for adults with fine indoor and outdoor restaurants and bars and, of course, the three golf courses.
- To book, check prices or availability for JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort
10. Aloft Tucson University – one of the best hotels in Tucson that offers complementary services and a fun and funky design
On the edge of the University of Arizona campus, just a short walk from the football and basketball stadia, is Aloft Tucson University. From the hotel it’s easy to catch the Tucson Streetcar for access to Downtown, or a short drive to Kino Sports Complex for soccer and baseball.
A good quality modern hotel with smart guest rooms neatly designed in a comfortable European style. There’s a billiard room in the basement, a surprisingly good outdoor heated swimming pool and a small well-equipped fitness centre.
The little snack bar in the lobby serves essentials or a few steps outside take you to a big choice of restaurants, cafés and bars. Not a resort, but a faultless crash-pad type of hotel for getting out and about exploring the lovely city of Tucson.
- To book, check prices or availability for Aloft Tucson University
11. La Posada Lodge & Casitas, Ascend Hotel Collection – a cozy and quirky lodge that provides high-end guest rooms and charming casitas
In the midst of the valley north of Tucson, equidistant from the Santa Catalina Mountains in the east and Saguaro National Park in the west, sits La Posada Lodge & Casitas. A small-scale hotel in a cheerful mix of southwestern styles with just 60 rooms and 18 casitas. All the rooms and public spaces are decorated in lively semi-Spanish décor with plenty of wood, earth tones and coloured tiles.
The front of the hotel can be a little noisy with Route 77 directly outside, but the rear is protected with gardens and a heated outdoor pool overlooking a pretty canyon golf course with the mountains in the distance. There’s a decent TexMex bar and grill on site and a few alternatives in the neighbouring streets if you fancy a stroll. Overall, La Posada is considerably less expensive that some of the nearby resorts, but offers good value for money for this neighbourhood.
- To book, check prices or availability for La Posada Lodge & Casitas, Ascend Hotel Collection
12. AC Hotel by Marriott, Tucson Downtown – an innovative modern design hotel where guests can try craft beers and unique spirits sourced from Southern Arizona
First choice for many in Tucson are the vast desert resorts in the foothills of the mountains, but Central Tucson has much to offer, especially as a UNESCO designated world city of gastronomy for the Sonoran-style Mexican cuisine. AC Hotel by Marriott is in the heart of Downtown Tucson amongst a plethora of foodie havens.
Just one block from the central Amtrak railway station, the AC Hotel is a smart, modern, inspired block of a building without pseudo-Mexican pretences. The rooms are clean, simple, comfortable statements of city living.
The public areas use a little original colour to add moments of delight away from the dry deserts, and there’s a beautiful small rooftop pool for the sunsets. There is a restaurant and bar onsite, but with so much to see and do in the surrounding streets you probably won’t use it.
- To book, check prices or availability for AC Hotel by Marriott, Tucson Downtown
13. Arizona Inn, Midtown – a peaceful inn located in a historic residential neighborhood in central Tucson
A family-owned, historic hotel serving Tucson since 1930. The Arizona Inn in the Blenman-Elm Historic District of Tucson is not the simple bed and breakfast that its name implies. At first sight this traditional pueblo-style building appears small but, behind the doors, it expands almost two blocks with extensive gardens, a lovely outdoor pool, croquet, badminton, tennis courts, fitness centre and sauna.
There are 89 beautifully appointed, casita-style rooms and suites reflecting the simple, traditional Southwest aesthetic of muted tones offset with the occasional statement piece of carved wooden furniture from the on-site cabinet-making shop, where master craftsmen restore original furniture and create fine new custom furniture.
The main dining hall and patio bar serve superb, authentic local cuisine with sundaes in the garden in summer or afternoon tea in winter. Probably the finest, but certainly not the most expensive, hotel in Tucson.
- To book, check prices or availability for Arizona Inn, Midtown
14. Desert Trails Bed & Breakfast, Tanque Verde – a rustic-chic B&B that is ideal for hiking and bird watching
On the far eastern edge of Tucson at the entrance to Redington Pass through the Saguaro National Park is Desert Trails Bed & Breakfast. An exquisite, understated little home with just four spacious, relaxing guest rooms and its own pool, surrounded by the vast expanse of national parks with their unique flora and fauna.
Staying here is all about getting into nature; several hiking trails begin yards from the front door and there are places nearby to hire bicycles and even horses for a more energetic trek.
This is the extreme edge of Tucson; you’ll need a car to reach here – the nearest restaurant is 3 miles – but it’s the perfect escape for tranquillity and discovery of the rare beauty of Arizona. Highly recommended for a different and personal experience.
- To book, check prices or availability for Desert Trails Bed & Breakfast, Tanque Verde
15. El Conquistador Tucson, A Hilton Resort – an upscale golf and tennis resort that features a fish-shaped pool for children
In probably the very best location, at the foot of Mount Kimball, is the magnificently named El Conquistador Tucson. A handsome 500-acre desert resort with all the expected amenities of three stunning golf courses, manicured lawns, an extensive adults-only spa, tennis courts, outdoor pools, a waterslide, and dining and bars galore.
The building itself is simply designed in low-level blocks and styled in the neutral Southwestern style with the occasional piece of dark wood or a Spanish archway. Guest rooms and suites follow the simple styling and surround a large central courtyard with lawns and pools, almost everywhere has magnificent views of the dramatic mountain scenery.
The whole resort is beginning to look a little tired and in need of updating, but that’s to be expected with all hotels following the restrictions of Covid-19, and here compensation is the staggeringly beautiful surroundings.
- To book, check prices or availability for El Conquistador Tucson, A Hilton Resort
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